Refugees and volunteers were the subjects of the only two press statements to emerge from the Beehive since our previous report on ministerial announcements.
Saturday was World Refugee Day, giving Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway a pretext for reminding us of his existence, and Sunday was the start of National Volunteer Week, 21 June to 27 June 2020, giving Community and Volunteer Sector Minister Poto Williams a similar platform.
Both occasions left us wondering at Point of Order: who dreams up these occasions?
Lees-Galloway clumsily said:
“The Government is proud to play our part in international humanitarian work to provide support and protection to refugees, and celebrate the contributions our refugee community makes on World Refugee Day today.”
So how does it regard the contributions our refugee community makes on other days?
The Minister went on to enthuse:
“Former refugees contribute to our committees culturally, economically and socially. They bring with them their experiences, cultures, skills and their strong desire to participate in employment, community activities, volunteering and education.
“Many former refugees have played a part as essential workers during Levels 3 and 4 of the COVID-19 response. We thank them and continue to be impressed by the work they do in our communities.
“Although the UNHCR has suspended its refugee resettlement programme due to the COVID-19 pandemic work is underway to support the resumption of refugee resettlement once the UNHCR is ready, and our border restrictions are lifted. This includes ensuring that safe travel routes are available to facilitate refugee movements and the appropriate health measures and controls are in place,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.
Then he raised the matter of money and gave us an idea of the cost of supporting refugees.
Five projects to increase the wellbeing of our refugee community were supported in Budget 2020. They include helping former refugees reunite with family, supporting community settlement, and increasing security and processing.
Refugee family support
- Increases the support provide to former refugees in sponsoring family members and settlement support provided to sponsored family members
- Increases the cap on the Refugee Family Support Category from 300 people per year to 600 people per year from 2021/22
- $22.2m over 3 years (starting 2021/22)
Community organisations refugee sponsorship programme
- Extends the pilot for 3 years (from 2021/22) to gather more information on its effectiveness. The Pilot settled 24 refugees through 4 NGOs.
- The extended pilot will enable up to 50 sponsored refugees to be resettled in New Zealand in each of the three financial years from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024 (a total of 150 sponsored refugees over the three financial years).
- $5.4m over 3 yrs from 2021/22.
Security for refugee resettlement centre
- Addressing security needs after independent security assessment post March 15 attacks.
- Security technology, design work and security staffing increase.
- $8.5m over 4 yrs; Capital $1.9 million.
Increase processing for refugee and protect person claims
- Supports a forecast increase in claims from a total of 600 in 2019/2020 to 700 in 2021/2022
- Boosts capacity to address fraud, integrity issues and strengthen processes.
- $5.4m over 3 yrs (starts 2021/22)
Iain Lees-Galloway will be speaking at a Parliamentary event organised by the Red Cross in the Banquet Hall in Parliament tomorrow, from 12:00pm to 1:30pm.
All going well, it’s the event – not the speech – that will last from noon until 1.30pm.
Alas, Poto Williams did not give a similar rundown on the costs of caring for the Community and Volunteer Sector.
She did pay tribute to the volunteers:
“Your mahi glues us together as New Zealanders through good times and bad. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you were quick to answer the call from your communities by doing what needed to be done, as you always do.”
“You have demonstrated the incredible power of generosity and importance of manaakitanga during unprecedented times for our nation. It is through your selfless and kind acts that our elderly, immuno-compromised and those with severe needs were kept safe, fed, warm and informed.
She was sparse with her statistics:
New Zealand has more than 230,000 individuals volunteer their time every week and 27,000 registered charities.
But anything with a dollar sign in front was absent from Poto’s tribute.
20 JUNE 2020
Supporting and celebrating our refugee community
The Government is proud to play our part in international humanitarian work to provide support and protection to refugees, and celebrate the contributions our refugee community makes on World Refugee Day today says Minister of Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway.
20 JUNE 2020
Volunteers and charities recognised for valuable contributions during National Volunteer Week
The contribution of volunteers and charities has been recognised by Minister Poto Williams to mark National Volunteer Week, 21 June to 27 June 2020.
Community and Voluntary Sector
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